My eternal search for the ultimate apple cake continued throughout the summer in preparation for a fall post. The criteria were specific: the cake had to be moist, uncomplicated, delicate yet distinct in flavor, ladened with apples and include olive oil. I am delighted to report that the search is over thanks to the remarkable Yotam Ottolenghi. Apple & Olive Oil Cake is the quintessential Italian style Torta di Mele, even your Nonna would approve.
This cake stands proudly on its own, despite the fact that the original recipe includes a maple icing which I am certain is nothing less than heavenly. A generous dusting of confectioner’s sugar, as Ottolenghi suggests is the ideal way to adorn this cake.
As a rule, I have a jar of golden raisins marinating in grappa at all times. The sweet raisins swollen with grappa are a terrific with gelato or panna cotta, so why not use them in the Apple & Olive Oil Cake?
I adjusted the recipe slightly, using two eggs, rather than the 2 eggs and 2 egg whites in the original recipe, as I wanted a denser type of crumb. Adding both the vanilla seeds and grated lemon zest to the olive oil and sugar allows the oil to absorb the flavors in a deeper way which results in a more fragrant cake. The batter in this recipe binds the abundant amount of apples together, it envelopes the cut apples like a cozy fall sweater. Cutting the apples to size insures that they will be fully cooked once the cake is baked. The aroma of the lemon, cinnamon and apples filled the house with the intoxicating fragrances of fall.
Looking for a fall cake, something parve for the upcoming holidays – look no further.
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- Heaping ¾ cup of golden raisins soaked in Grappa for at least 2 full days
- 2¼ cup of all purpose flour
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- 1¼ tsp. baking soda
- ½ cup of good quality Italian extra virgin olive oil
- ¾ superfine sugar (run granulated sugar through the food processor for a few minutes)
- ½ plump vanilla bean, split & seeds scraped
- 2 organic large eggs, separated
- 3 large Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and diced into ⅜ inch pieces (I used 4 small apples)
- Grated zest of 1 large lemon
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Preheat the oven to 325º. Grease a 9” springform pan and line the bottom & sides with parchment.
- Sift together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda - set aside.
- Put the extra virgin olive oil, superfine sugar, lemon peel and vanilla seeds in the work bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until combined, scrap down the work bowl and continue to beat on medium-high until the mixture becomes thick - about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the egg yolks, one at a time scraping down after each yolk is added. Beat for an additional 2 minutes until the mixture is smooth and quite thick.
- Remove the work bowl from the mixer and using a spatula, fold the diced apples and raisins into the yolk mixture, turning it well from the bottom of the bowl. Add the sifted dry ingredients and continue to fold in by hand, this will take some time and patience as the batter is not as wet as one would expect.
- Whisk the egg whites using a clean bowl and whisk (or the standing mixer with the whisk attachment) until soft peaks are formed.
- Add ½ of the eggs whites to the rather dense apple batter to loosen it to a degree. Add the remaining whipped egg white, continuing to fold gently but evenly.
- Turn the batter into the prepared cake pan carefully scraping every bit from the bowl. Using the back of a large table spoon, smooth out the batter and place the pan into the oven.
- Bake for 1 to 1½ hours or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool. After 20 minutes, unhinge the sides of the springform pan. After 45 minutes remove the bottom of the springform pan an allow the cake to cool completely.
- Once cooled, generously sift confectioner’s sugar over the cake and perhaps garnish with some lemon peel.